A whole new world – potato cooking: Tartiflette
After so many years of steering clear of potato dishes or any recipes involving even a hint of the spud, it’s now like a whole new world has opened to me. I’m still not a fan of the floury potato, much loved in Ireland, but I have been experimenting with waxy new potatoes in dishes like Frittata. Well, at least it’s a step on from the tinned potatoes I tried in New Zealand that first got me interested in the tuber.
A recent cold snap and the presence of some new potatoes in the fridge (a wonder in itself!) got me to thinking about a wintertime recipe for a French dish, Tartiflette, I had seen in Diana Henry’s Roast Figs, Sugar Snow. It’s a recipe that I might have leafed over in the past but its combination of waxy potatoes, bacon lardons, sour cream and cheese had me hooked. The traditional Tartiflette is made with Reblochon, a soft washed-rind cheese that is good for melting but, in its absence, I substituted some strong Dubliner cheddar. Seeing as tradition was already out the window, I also added some chunks of garlicy fat-flecked chorizo that we had picked up in a Parisian supermarket.
When she first encountered this dish, in a small restaurant in the French Savoie, Diana had it with charcuterie, gherkins and pickled onions. She normally partners it with a plain green salad so, to cut the delicious richness, I served a plain rocket salad on the side and, to ensure none of the savoury juices were lost, some crusty bread rolls. This is not the kind of meal that you would want to eat before any kind of activity. It is, however, perfect cold weather food. No matter how often I get told that we’re coming in to Spring, there’s little sign of it in Ireland at the moment.
New waxy potatoes – 500g (don’t bother to peel them)
Olive oil – 1 tablespoon
Bacon lardons – 100g
Chorizo – 50g, chopped
Onion – 1, roughly chopped
Garlic – 2 cloves
Strong cheddar – 100g, grated
Crème fraîche – 50g
Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
Cook the potatoes until just tender in boiling salted water. Drain and, when they are cool enough to handle, slice in half.
Preheat the oven to 190°C. Heat the olive oil in an ovenproof cast iron frying pan and cook the lardons over a fairly high heat to colour them. Lower the heat a little then throw in the chorizo and onions and cook for a couple of minutes until the onion is soft. Add the garlic and halved potatoes and fry until everything is hot. Season well.
Dollop spoonfuls of the crème fraîche over the potatoes and sprinkle with the grated cheese. Put the pan into the preheated oven and cook for 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and the crème fraîche bubbling. Serve immediately with a green salad and some crusty bread.
Adapted from Roast Figs, Sugar Snow by Diana Henry.